Kids don’t want to see their lesbian mother.

Q:

I am a 39 year-old mom of two daughters, 15 and 10, who are less than pleased with my recent revelation that I’m lesbian. They thought our family was the 90’s equivalent of the Cleavers.

Their dad and I divorced five months ago without a clear-cut custody order, wishfully thinking we would be able to develop our own parenting plan. The girls have basically shunned me and have thrown their full love and support to dad while I have been relegated to car-pool nanny status for an hour or so a day. Dad is quasi-supportive, claiming to want the girls to maintain a relationship with me, but he won’t “make” them do anything they find uncomfortable.

I am desperately trying to avoid a legal route that would add fuel to the fire. The girls refuse to increase the time they spend with me or even consider visiting my new home because they have no interest in being involved with “that” part of my life. How do I begin to rebuild the relationships I once had?

Signed,
Dejected Mom

A:

This question has more to do with the divorce than it does with your coming out, but your coming out adds an extra layer. Because your sexuality was the factor that changed the family structure, you become an easy target for blame and anger — especially if your pre-divorce family was what might be considered “perfect.”

I agree with you that a custody battle should be avoided — by the time it is over with, your kids might be in college and your savings drained.

I’m sure it is very painful to not have the relationship you had with them before you came out. Show your children that your love for them is not contingent upon them wanting to spend time with you. They need time to adjust and they need to know that you will be there for them when they reach out to you again.

It is very typical for a “quasi-supportive” parent to enable children’s rejection of the other parent, believing they are doing the right thing. From your ex-husband’s perspective, he doesn’t want to “make” the children do something they don’t want to do (and their preference to stay with him is a big stroke to his ego.) But the other dynamic that might be going on is that the children know that their father is feeling hurt, so they don’t want to hurt him more by spending time with you. In their eyes right now, they have lost their mother as they knew her, and they might worry that they would be betraying their dad if they spend quality time with you. In the simplest terms from this potential perspective: they already lost one parent and they are not willing to risk rejection from the other.

In this situation, a fully-supportive — not quasi-supportive — co-parent is needed. Your children need to hear from their dad that he thinks it’s important they spend time with you again. This is not about your ego or his, nor is it about anyone winning or losing. This is about children having a right to a relationship with one parent without fear of losing the other.

Will your ex-husband’s cooperation be too difficult to attain? Consider hiring a mediator, seeking neutral family or friends to facilitate an agreement, or attending family counseling.

No matter what, keep loving your kids. No matter what.

Related Resources:

NOLO: Law for All ~ “Divorce and Child Custody”

9 thoughts on “Kids don’t want to see their lesbian mother.”

  1. I am the quasi-supportive dad referred to in the advice column and felt impelled to reply. While I understand and agree that a certain amount of ego stroking goes on when the kids hide behind me, I have also tried to maintain an open-minded approach towards the relationship the girls must maintain with their mother.

    The description that I “won’t make” them doing anything they find uncomfortable, I have a problem with and feel it is unfair. I believe that to place the Ex in a position to Make his kids accept an alternative lifestyle in addition to dealing with Mom’s decision to brake up our marriage and family based on her hidden feelings, is asking a lot. The girls are trying to cope with mom and dad not together anymore after experiencing a Cleaver’s like atmosphere and they seem to be doing a good job adjusting. The missing component is the disinterest on the girl’s part of being involved with “that” part of her life and spending time in mom’s new home.

    Mom failed to share with you is that she immediately began living with her new partner, and her new partner happens to be a very close family friend that the girls looked upon as an aunt. The girls feel betrayed by both of these women and have told mom that they obviously were lying as well as hiding things behind everyone’s back and they are deeply offended by their actions. Mom continues to discount the girls feelings by attempting to rationalize their actions as private and not any of the girl’s business.

    I have pushed the girls to call their mom, regularly, (even to the point of dialing the phone and handing it to them), I have set up times that they must spend with their mom and they talk mom out of them or tell her they don’t want to be with her. They complain constantly to her as well as to me that she acts different and they are struggling to re-connect with her based on her need to push the lifestyle, her new life and family upon them.

    Your point that the girls may feel that they lost one parent and they are not willing to risk losing another is very accurate. Mom has changed drastically and her girls are having difficulty identifying who this new person is! I have known her for twenty years and almost instantly I do not know who she is anymore. I truly feel that I have done everything to preserve and support the relationship but continue to come up short. If the girls are not totally accepting of their new Mom, than I am categorized as a quasi-supportive dad and need to do more or “Make them” like their mom again.

    Finally, has anyone given any thought to the Dad and his feelings, the changes he is forced to experience, the difficulty of being a single dad of two deeply hurt kids, the loss of his Cleaver like world. Probably not, Dad’s aren’t suppose to have feelings, dads don’t cry. Well let me tell you, I do! I Did!

    Dedicated Dad

  2. I think your response to the mother who’s being shunned by her daughters was very wise. My heart aches for her as not only did I get shunned when I left my husband, but have gotten the blame for everything up to, but not including the war in Bosnia. The children aged 42 and 45 have made their choices and now have no parent at all in their lives as my ex-husband died last year.

    I have often wondered what they have told their children (if they have any) about their grandmother.

    Keep up the good work,

    Mary

  3. I can imagine the angst you are feeling at this point in the road – however, I can tell you that things will probably get better for you. I also had a ‘quasi’ supportive ex – when we divorced we had two young sons – what I ended up needing to do was to sit down with him on a few different occassions and talk to him about how I needed his support to look to the kids (verbally) gave him some ideas about how to talk to them when questions arose etc….

    I think it’s all our worst nightmare but the good news is that your ex is even quasi supportive….hang in there and enlist the help of a good therapist if you can – maybe even invite your ex to come in on a session – he may have some very legit questions that could be answered there…

  4. I feel that you have avoided something very important. The daughter’s rights to their feelings of hurt and at an early point in all of this, embarassment (consider their ages) in not only their family structure, as they knew and were comfortable with, breaking apart, but also the ambiguous feelings they may have as to the reason it was torn apart.

    My personal feelings is that the mother should give the girls the time and space they need to absorb everything happening in their lives, while reassuring them that she loves them unconditionally and will be there for them when they need her. There is also a huge need for counseling for the family (separate and together) to help the girls sort out not only their feelings regarding the divorce and their mother’s alternate choice, but also to help them deal with the difficult task of being teens/young girls in a very difficult world.

    Thank you for this time.

  5. I think that their father being truly supportive is definately the most important factor, then maybe mom could explain to her girls that she is still the same person, she is still their mother, nothing about her has really ‘changed’ that she is just now ‘realizing’ that she is doesn’t belong with a man.

    Explain to them that continuing to be with their father would not have been fair to him, and that she cares enough for their father that she wants to afford him the chance to be happy with somene else.

    They may still harbor some resentment for awhile and that is when you need to bite the bullet and spend time with them on theier terms, like, maybe they don’t like coming to your home because it makes them feel uncomfortable, (maybe they wonder what you are doing while they are not there, or it used to be their fathers’ home, or whatever the issue may be), so agree to spend time with them (without any siginficant others) out, like the movies, parks, malls, etc.

    After they realize you are still you, and you still love them, (and make sure they know they are your first priority) they will most likely warm back up to you as long as dad doesn’t sabotage the whole thing.

  6. I must say as a divorced mom watching her ex-husband and 3 perfect step children going thru similar issues with their biological mother, that you go dad! I think you are doing the best thing you can be doing for your girls. Its not your place to push the girls into their mothers new life. Children are emotionally fragile at all ages and such a drastic life change should have been a slow drawn out, step by step process on their mothers part. Dont get me wrong mom, I understand your emotions are probably twisted in knots as well, and we are never perfect and offen make mistakes. The mother cant expect dad to force the girls into something that is moms life and decissions. He is doing the best he can by reassuring them that mom loves them. Mom this is a bridge that you alone have to mend with your kids. My situation was some what dif but my offer some insight. I raised my exhusbands 3 children and our 2 that we had together for 6 years. We divorced a year ago. My stepchildrens mother was a stripper who bounced from boyfriend to boyfriend. ( This is the part where the 2 mothers are different but if you look at the simple fact that children see, it is the same.) Her life style was one that made her children uncomfortable as yours is one that makes your children uncomfortable. My husbands and I’s idea to help the situation was that she wouldnt spend time with the kids where ever she was living. We setup agreed on visitation spots. At first ofcourse she hated the idea. But it worked for 5 years. Since we were basically telling her she had no choice, I opened my home to her. If she ever wanted to come be mommy all she had to do was call. I would open my entire home to her. She could come in and cook for them, take them to the park, put them to bed, spend the night or weekend even. Or she could stay at her grandmother with them for the weekend or whatever. It worked so well. The kids were stable and happy and felt as if they always had their entire family to depend on. As well, it formed a stronger relationship between her and I and the childrens father.

  7. After reading and considering all these posts, I must voice my support for the Father in this situation. Why is it when you look up “Lesbian Mom” at Amazon you get all these results on how a Married Lesbian should come out and be proud. These books give them advice and support for leaving their husbands, and all the while acting as if the Woman is the victim. What about the husband? Ya know the Man who was married to the secret lesbian and raised children with her. What about him? What about his pain and loss. Some of these lesbians walk out on their husbands right into the arms of their lover, leaving the man broken and alone. In this case two daughters were involved and they hold on to their father, and rightfully so because he is the victim here. Now these girls want nothing to do with Mom and her new girlfriend, and instead of accepting the consequences for her actions she wishes to blame others. Realize this Mom, you are entitled to love whom you love, and I am in noway a homophobe. The problem with this situation is you were a married women forsaking ALL others. Not just other men. Remember you are not the only one hurting, and your daughters see your husband’s pain all the time. Naturally they blame you, because, in their eyes, your actions caused this. If you still think this is unfair, put yourself in your family’s shoes. Dad, remember that no matter what it is okay to be hurt and angry, but don’t let your emotions poison you or your family.

  8. I don’t feel any compassion for the lesbian liar. Not only I, but my daughter is 7 and has been to therapy over same situation.
    I know you are still playing the victim role. SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!
    Look at yourself in the mirror and start thinking about others rather than yourself and you might get some respect. Go to a doctor and get checked for BI-POLAR DISORDER…. I might sound harsh but I have no way to sugar coat how I feel about what you did.
    For the guy….Love those girls like there is no tomorrow. They will nurture and be there for you. Sorry you all had to go through that.

  9. While I understand, I have to say, my ex’s approach, I think is better. She, after the divorce lived seperately from her lover until out teenage children went to college. It made the kids lives so much more simple. We discussed this and while we both dated, we each put our kids first and waited to start new commited relationships, after they were grown. I and my ex believe that while it was best for us to divorce, the kids and their well being came before our own. It is my opinion that bothe the father and the mother in this case are being selfish. Your childrens lives became the most important when you started to covceive them, so to both you owed it to them to be the best parent you can be, as for your own lives they can wait. It is not about you it is about them.

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